Crew chiefs get spotlight

Crew chiefs get a share of the spotlight Brett Borden DOVER, Del. (May 31, 1998) They are perhaps the only men who influence the outcome of the race as much as the drivers. They spend hours upon hours working tirelessly to bring victory to...

Crew chiefs get a share of the spotlight Brett Borden

DOVER, Del. (May 31, 1998) They are perhaps the only men who influence the outcome of the race as much as the drivers. They spend hours upon hours working tirelessly to bring victory to their team, yet receive little of the glory. Until now, that is.

Four NASCAR Winston Cup Series crew chiefs -- charter members of the so-called "Crew Chiefs Club" -- participated in a unique event Saturday evening outside Dover Downs International Speedway.

Todd Parrott, Robin Pemberton, Jimmy Makar and Larry McReynolds each signed autographs and chatted with fans at the Chevrolet and Ford souvenir trailers after NASCAR Winston Cup Series "Happy Hour" practice.

What did it feel like being the focus of attention for once?

"It feels good," said Parrott, crew chief for Dale Jarrett's No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford. "It's pretty meaningful not just to me but for the whole team as well. My driver's sitting in there (infield) right now ... he's tired, he's hot. For us to be able to do this is great. It sure beats sitting in a hotel room watching the Atlanta race or some hockey game."

Pemberton, Rusty Wallace's Penske Racing South crew chief, concurred.

"It's great," Pemberton said. "We get to meet a lot of people. It's a chance to talk to them and answer any questions they've got. It's good for them and it's good for us."

From the fan's perspective, the event provides a chance to learn more about the people who make the decisions for their favorite teams. For fans like Cindy Usilton of Laurel, Md., it put the names behind the scenes onto a more personal level.

"It's so interesting to meet the crew chiefs," Usilton said. "They're really nice guys."

For Bobby Labonte's head wrench Makar, the appreciation goes both ways.

"It really is fun," said the boss of the Interstate Batteries Pontiac team. "So much of the time we are in the garage that we don't get to see the faces of the fans. We don't get to answer their questions without something like this."

McReynolds, crew chief for Dale Earnhardt's GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet, said he saw the session not just as a chance for personal interaction with the fans, but as a chance to represent the other members of the crew and team that, like him, spend most of their time outside of the limelight.

"I think it's neat," McReynolds said. "We're trying to make a statement in a lot of different ways. We're here as part of a team. We're representing everyone who's in the garage. I can't think of a more timely year to do something like this than during NASCAR's 50th Anniversary."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace
Teams Team Penske